Hans Bellmer

1902 - 1975
Hans Bellmer was a German Surrealist artist known for his life-size dolls and erotic photography. His earliest dolls—perversions of the female form with legs growing out of legs—were created out of a desire to oppose the Nazi Regime’s goal of so-called physical perfection. “The female body is like an endless sentence that invites us to rearrange it,” the artist once observed, “so that its real meaning becomes clear through a series of endless anagrams.” He was born on March 13, 1902 in Kattowitz, Germany, in what is now Poland. Once he received the label of degenerate artist, Bellmer fled his home country and moved to Paris, where his challenging work was embraced by members of the Surrealist movement, especially André Breton. After the war, the artist moved into other media, including sexually explicit photography and paintings that explored fetishism through dream-like imagery. He notably collaborated with the artist Unica Zürn on the photographic series Unica Tied Up, featuring close-up images of flesh bulging around tight rope binding in an investigation of sadomasochistic practices.

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